Detroit Shock

The Detroit Shock were a Women's National Basketball Association (WNBA) team based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. They were the 2003, 2006, and 2008 WNBA champions.

Detroit Shock
HistoryDetroit Shock
Tulsa Shock
Dallas Wings
ArenaThe Palace of Auburn Hills
LocationAuburn Hills, Michigan
Team colorsBlue, dark blue, red, silver, white
Championships3 (2003, 2006, 2008)
Conference titles4 (2003, 2006, 2007, 2008)

Debuting in 1998, it was one of the league's first expansion franchises. It was also the first WNBA expansion franchise to win a WNBA Championship. The team was the sister team of the Detroit Pistons and from 2002 to the 2009 season was coached by Pistons legend Bill Laimbeer.

On October 20, 2009, it was announced that the Shock would be moving to Tulsa, Oklahoma to play in the new downtown arena, the BOK Center. Former men's college coach Nolan Richardson was named the team's new head coach. The Shock roster and history was retained along with the Shock name, but the team colors were changed to black, red, and gold. The franchise is currently known as Dallas Wings.

Franchise history

The early years (1998–2002)

The Shock were one of the first WNBA expansion teams and began play in 1998. The Detroit Shock quickly brought in a blend of rookies and veterans. The Shock's first coach was hall of famer Nancy Lieberman. The Shock would start out their inaugural season 0-4, but would put together an amazing expansion season, and finish 17-13, missing out on the postseason by one game.

In 1999, the Shock finished 15-17, in a three-way tie for the playoffs with the Orlando Miracle and the Charlotte Sting. The Shock and Sting played a one-game playoff, which the Shock would lose 60-54.

In 2000, the Shock would finish with a 14-18 record and end tied for the last seed. This time, the Shock would lose the tiebreaker and not qualify, losing to the Washington Mystics. Lieberman was fired after the season and replaced by Greg Williams.

After the season in the 2001 WNBA Draft, the Shock would draft Deanna Nolan with the #6 pick. She would later develop into the team star. The 2001 Shock would finish the season with a 10-22 record, this time tying three teams for last place in the Eastern Conference.

The 2002 Shock started the season 0-10, at which point Williams was fired and replaced by former Detroit Pistons legend Bill Laimbeer. The team finished the season 9-23, but Laimbeer's ideas influenced the team's front office, who agreed with the new coach's ideas; including bringing over some new players that he felt were necessary for the Shock to become a contender.

From worst to champions (2003)

After massive changes to the roster, Laimbeer predicted before the 2003 season that the Shock would be league champions, and his prediction would come true. The Shock would dominate the East in the regular season, posting a 25-9 record and winning the #1 seed by 7 games. In the playoffs, the Shock would defeat the Cleveland Rockers 2-1 for their first playoff series win in franchise history. In the Conference Finals, the Shock swept the Connecticut Sun 2-0 to reach the WNBA Finals. Despite the achievements, the Shock were viewed as huge underdogs to the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Sparks, who were looking for a three-peat. The Shock would emerge victorious in the series, winning a thrilling Game Three 83-78. That game would draw the largest crowd ever in WNBA history (22,076 came to watch). Detroit, became the first team in WNBA history to make it from last place one season to WNBA champions the very next season. Coincidentally, the Detroit Pistons would also defeat the Los Angeles Lakers in the NBA finals in 2003-04.

Return to mediocrity (2004–2005)

The Shock would stumble after their championship season and play mediocre basketball in the 2004 season. The Shock would post a 17-17 record and qualify for the playoffs as the #3 seed. The Shock would take the series against the New York Liberty the full three games, but would fall in the end 2-1.

The 2005 Shock were much like the 2004 Shock, playing mediocre basketball all season, posting a 16-18 record and make the playoffs as the #4 seed. The Shock would make a quick exit, as the Connecticut Sun would sweep the Shock. 2005 would see the addition of former Piston star Rick Mahorn as an assistant coach to Laimbeer.

Back to the top (2006–2008)

The 2006 Shock performed well during the regular season, posting a 23-11 record and winning the #2 seed in the playoffs. The Shock went on to make quick work of the Indiana Fever, sweeping them in the first round. In the Conference Finals, the Shock would be matched up against the Sun. This time, the Shock emerged victorious from the hard-fought series, winning it 2-1. In the Finals, which were now best-of-five, the Shock faced the defending champion Sacramento Monarchs. The Shock lost game 1, getting handily defeated 95-71 at home. The Shock rallied in game 2 to even up the series 1-1. Going to Sacramento, the Shock were defeated in Game Three 89-69. With their backs against the wall, the Shock dominated the Monarchs in game 4, 72-52, setting up the crucial Game 5 in Detroit. At halftime in game 5, the Shock would find themselves down 44-36. However, in the third quarter, the Shock would outscore the Monarchs 22-9, gaining a 58-53 lead going into the final quarter. The Shock held off the Monarchs in the last quarter and win the game 78-73, and the championship 3 games to 2. They became the first WNBA team to win non-consecutive championships and to win the Finals after being down 2 games to 1. They also were involved in the first WNBA Finals to go 5 games.

In 2007, the Shock sought to defend their title and repeat, something they were not able to do in 2004 after their 2003 Finals victory. The Shock would finish with a WNBA-best 24-10 regular season record, and capture the #1 seed in the playoffs for the first time in franchise history. In the first round, the Shock were heavily favored against a New York Liberty team that wasn't predicted to make the post season. But in game 1, the Shock came out flat and were defeated 73-51. In game 2, the Shock trailed most of the game, but a late charge and missed free throws by the Liberty gave the Shock a 76-73 victory and forced a game 3. Game 3 was a battle, as the game went into overtime. In the end, the Shock would emerge the victors 71-70 (OT). In the Eastern Conference Finals, the Shock would face the Indiana Fever, with whom the Shock were bitter rivals. Much like the Liberty series, the Shock were blown out in Game 1 75-65. Again, the Shock rallied to win games 2 & 3 by the scores of 77-63 and 81-65. In the 2007 WNBA Finals, the Shock faced the Phoenix Mercury, who had dominated the Western Conference all year long. The Shock won Game One 108-100 at home. The Mercury evened the series up in game 2, defeating the Shock 98-70. The series shifted to Phoenix for games 3 & 4. The Shock won a rough Game Three 88-83. With a chance to win the Finals in game 4, the Shock and Mercury battled back and forth all game. When the dust cleared, the Mercury had won 77-76, forcing a final Game 5 in Detroit. But in game 5 at home, the Shock were simply dominated, as they lost the game 108-92. With the loss, the Shock lost the series and became the first team to lose the final game of the Finals at home.

Entering the 2008 post season, the Shock posted a 22-12 regular season record, the best record in the East. In the first round against the Indiana Fever, Detroit handled Indiana in 3 games. Due to the scheduling of other events at the Palace, the Shock had to play their home playoff games in the conference and league finals at Eastern Michigan University's Convocation Center in Ypsilanti. In the conference finals against the New York Liberty, the Shock would face another 3 games series, but Detroit earned the series victory, moving on to the WNBA Finals against the league best San Antonio Silver Stars. Although the Silver Stars had the best record in the league in 2008, Detroit managed to sweep San Antonio, capturing their 3rd championship in franchise history.

The final Detroit season (2009)

The Shock were named favorites for 2009, but they had a rough road getting there. However, the Shock bounced back in the second half of 2009 and eventually would place them in the playoffs for the seventh straight year at 18-16. In the first round, the Shock swept the Atlanta Dream to advance to their fourth straight Eastern Conference Final, Again facing their rival, the Indiana Fever. In the East Finals, the Shock were defeated by the Indiana Fever in three games, missing the Finals for the first time since 2005.

The end of the Detroit era

On October 19, 2009, the Associated Press reported that a Shock official stated that the team would in fact be moving to Tulsa.[1] The decision was officially announced at a press conference in Tulsa on October 20, 2009.[2] [3]


From 2002 to 2009, the Shock's home uniforms were white with the stylized Shock name in red on the front, while road jerseys were blue with the word "Detroit" across the front in red and white. From 1998 to 2001, a more complex color scheme was used (Black, Yellow, Green, Red, Silver, White).

Season-by-season records

Season Team Conference Regular season Playoff Results Head coach
Detroit Shock
1998 1998 East 4th 17 13 .567 Nancy Lieberman
1999 1999 East 2nd 15 17 .469 Lost Conference Semifinals (Charlotte, 0–1) Nancy Lieberman
2000 2000 East 5th 14 18 .438 Nancy Lieberman
2001 2001 East 7th 10 22 .313 Greg Williams
2002 2002 East 8th 9 23 .281 G. Williams (0–10)
B. Laimbeer (9–13)
2003 2003 East 1st 25 9 .735 Won Conference Semifinals (Cleveland, 2–1)
Won Conference Finals (Connecticut, 2–0)
Won WNBA Finals (Los Angeles, 2–1)
Bill Laimbeer
2004 2004 East 3rd 17 17 .500 Lost Conference Semifinals (New York, 1–2) Bill Laimbeer
2005 2005 East 4th 16 18 .471 Lost Conference Semifinals (Connecticut, 0–2) Bill Laimbeer
2006 2006 East 2nd 23 11 .676 Won Conference Semifinals (Indiana, 2–0)
Won Conference Finals (Connecticut, 2–1)
Won WNBA Finals (Sacramento, 3–2)
Bill Laimbeer
2007 2007 East 1st 24 10 .706 Won Conference Semifinals (New York, 2–1)
Won Conference Finals (Indiana, 2–1)
Lost WNBA Finals (Phoenix, 2–3)
Bill Laimbeer
2008 2008 East 1st 22 12 .647 Won Conference Semifinals (Indiana, 2–1)
Won Conference Finals (New York, 2–1)
Won WNBA Finals (San Antonio, 3–0)
Bill Laimbeer
2009 2009 East 3rd 18 16 .529 Won Conference Semifinals (Atlanta, 2–0)
Lost Conference Finals (Indiana, 1–2)
B. Laimbeer (1–3)
R. Mahorn (17–13)
Regular season 210 186 .530 4 Conference Championships
Playoffs 30 19 .612 3 WNBA Championships


Final roster

Detroit Shock roster
C 45 Braxton, Kara 6 ft 6 in (1.98 m) 190 lb (86 kg) Georgia
PF 35 Ford, Cheryl 6 ft 3 in (1.91 m) 195 lb (88 kg) Louisiana Tech
SG 22 Hornbuckle, Alexis 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) 155 lb (70 kg) Tennessee
F 42 Kelly, Crystal 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 190 lb (86 kg) Western Kentucky
C 44 McWilliams, Taj 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 184 lb (83 kg) St. Edward's University
SG 14 Nolan, Deanna 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) 147 lb (67 kg) Georgia
SF 23 Pierson, Plenette  6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 178 lb (81 kg) Texas Tech
C 24 Sanni, Olayinka 6 ft 2 in (1.88 m) 205 lb (93 kg) West Virginia
G/F 30 Smith, Katie 5 ft 11 in (1.80 m) 175 lb (79 kg) Ohio State
G 6 Teasley, Nikki 6 ft 0 in (1.83 m) 169 lb (77 kg) North Carolina
G 1 Zellous, Shavonte 5 ft 10 in (1.78 m) 155 lb (70 kg) Pittsburgh
Head coach
Assistant coaches
Athletic trainer
Strength and conditioning coach

  • (C) Team captain
  • (FA) Free agent
  • (IN) Inactive
  • (S) Suspended
  • Injured

Hall of Famers

Retired numbers

Detroit Shock retired numbers
No. Player Position Tenure
32Swin CashF2002–2007

Notable players

Coaches and others

Head Coaches:

General Managers:

  • Nancy Lieberman (1998-2001)
  • Bill Laimbeer (2002-09)
  • Cheryl Reeve (2009)

Assistant Coaches



  1. Staff (October 19, 2009). "Detroit Shock moving to Tulsa, source says". Toledo Blade. Retrieved October 19, 2009.
  2. "WNBA's Shock will relocate to Tulsa". October 22, 2009. Archived from the original on November 6, 2012. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
  3. "Shock makes move official". ESPN. October 20, 2009. Retrieved October 22, 2009.
Sporting positions
Preceded by
Los Angeles Sparks
WNBA Champions
2003 (First title)
Succeeded by
Seattle Storm
Preceded by
New York Liberty
WNBA Eastern Conference Champions
2003 (First title)
Succeeded by
Connecticut Sun
Preceded by
Sacramento Monarchs
WNBA Champions
2006 (Second title)
Succeeded by
Phoenix Mercury
Preceded by
Phoenix Mercury
WNBA Champions
2008 (Third title)
Succeeded by
Phoenix Mercury
Preceded by
Connecticut Sun
WNBA Eastern Conference Champions
2006 (Second title)
2007 (Third title)
2008 (Fourth title)
Succeeded by
Indiana Fever
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